Pinkshinyultrablast Grandfeathered

[Club AC30; 2016]

Styles: “thunder pop,” cubist prog, surrealgaze
Others: Mahogany, Rush

It’s early 2016, and we’ve started it with a positivity deficit. The taste of death is on everyone’s lips. How can I gaze up at the stars or into a painting? How will the flowers bloom in the sunshine of early spring? Where are our comrades and our mentors now? Are they just particles burned to ash floating into a vast emptiness or buried in the earth? I feel confined, suffocating on social media and recycled office air. I look in the mirror, and I’m almost 36. I’m fucking drained by the aloof attitudes people still cop. Then, suddenly, this music lilts out of the darkness and up into a deep blue sky. It is a vapor trail. It is optimism in the ethereal. Do bands even aspire to this?

Almost exactly one year after dropping the exquisite Everything Else Matters , Russian group Pinkshinyultrablast return with Grandfeathered to make me wonder if they’ve been watching that new Fox sitcom with John Stamos. All of the hallmarks of the band’s debut remain blissfully intact, and yet they’ve managed to engineer an LP with even more seemingly absurd outliers than minimalism and Radiophonic blips. You ever hear a dream pop song with a galloping rhythm? “Glow Vastly” has that. Pinkshinyultrablast smash the paradigms of the genre into a million pieces and reassemble them with a cubist grace and pop melody that belies the amount of work I can only imagine goes into the construction of these pieces of music. They prove it’s possible to craft an album of ear worms with few traditional hooks. Fractal guitar-runs dovetail into fuzz explosions, instruments weave in and out of the mix, and memorable parts are anchored in non-repeating chains. Sound like prog? It kind of is, but they’ve coined their style “thunder pop,” and I’m hard pressed to argue.

Grandfeathered goes prog pop. On the band’s last album, elements of post-rock could be heard in its twinkling guitar arpeggios. If that facet of the band’s music rears its head here, it’s less noticeable. In execution, many of these tracks display a heavier approach. They still bear a passing similarity to Mahogany, but that now has more to do with Lyubov’s vocals sounding beamed in from The Dream of a Modern Day than it does with the rest of the band members, who go hard in the paint for the whole damn album. The guitars get aggressive with palm-muted rhythmic interplay like the metallic riffing during the bridge of Hum’s “Stars.” The bass is bright and snappy, working in complex patterns beneath the guitars. The drums maintain an aggressive tempo that keeps the whole album flowing in a way that feels like blasting off.

The winsome attitude is further reflected in their choice of album art. Most of the band’s art has been created by Lesha Galkin, co-founder of the St. Petersburg-based design collective Dopludo. According to their site, his focus is usually on product and furniture design. The sleeve for Pinkshinyultrablast’s Kiddy Pool Dreams 12-inch features a car driving down a winding, navy-colored path toward a pinkish orange horizon., suggesting a forward momentum to something promising, like the utopian future of 1950s-era science fiction Grandfeathered is also adorned with Galkin’s gorgeous art. In a surreal landscape, an egg and a cylinder loom over a puddle of mirror-like liquid streaming from a barely-visible tube. An spongy object sits in the foreground. The title makes no more sense than being a bad pun on the aforementioned sitcom. I can only surmise these are things meant to confuse, like when a friend plays a trick on you but you both end up laughing anyway. This art is an escape pod to some other space — to the stars, a circulatory system, a kitchen counter — anywhere but the dark spaces of the mind where fear lurks. Suddenly I feel a relief from anxiety. The humility of existence slipping away again, however briefly.

Links: Pinkshinyultrablast - Club AC30

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